The idea of judgment does not come from Pasteur
[Pasteur Street in Tehran, where the Supreme Leader's office and the Office of the Presidency of the Republic are located]
Farewell with the Platonic Philosopher King
"Politics is a very serious matter, which cannot be left to politicians." (Charles de Gaulle). Roah Al-Amin Saidi
Translated by: Reda Al-Gharabi Al-Qazwini
We all know that the Islamic Republic of Iran is going through one of the most crucial periods of its life since the victory of the Islamic Revolution. The bitter experiences - and instructive at the same time - during the past years in the field of diplomacy and negotiation with the great powers, and the confrontation with one of the fiercest regimes of international economic sanctions that were imposed on a country in the modern era, would be beneficial to our politicians with their various responsibilities to manage the country during the coming years, to lead Iran to safety and overcome this difficult era. Today, it can be strictly said that many of the grave mistakes of some foreign policy officials and their misunderstandings, which led to making wrong decisions, are the result of their wrong perception of the changes and developments resulting from global politics and the economy.
Phrases such as “The UN Security Council resolutions are mere papers without value” or “The world needs us more than we need it” or “If sanctions are imposed on the Iranian oil sector, its price will reach hundreds of dollars.” Phrases are as dangerous as words like “The world is eager to cooperate with us after the nuclear agreement” or “If the United States restores sanctions, no one will follow it.” They also indicate a lack of knowledge of the realities of the current arena.
If we had a real understanding of the modern realities in politics and the global economy, we would have realized at the time that the six superpowers would never accept negotiations on the principle of “win-win” or the “positive sum game” with a mere regional power; And America will not easily leave the mechanism of sanctions - which it has realized is the most effective means of pressure on the Islamic Republic. Thus, if we know that in a globalized economy outside the framework of regulations and laws that are based on the role of individuals and private companies, European countries cannot, even if they wanted to, do much to force or encourage private companies in their countries to invest in the Iranian economy. Of course, these companies do not want the few benefits obtained from the Iranian market in exchange for the massive US sanctions, based on the principle of cost-benefit analysis. At that time, we would have realized that the global network of financial and banking exchanges, as long as it is closed to us, we cannot even ask our neighbor Iraq to pay off its huge debts, and so on in many other cases.
After four decades of the life of the Islamic Republic, we did not reach a comprehensive elite consensus, especially at the level of the centers of sovereign power, on how to deal with the global economy and adopt an appropriate model for development. Some of us still talk about the economy of resistance, self-sufficiency, and economic independence, while others talk about the inevitability of integration into the global economy and acceptance of its requirements, including following the liberal recommendations and mechanisms of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, while we were unable to adopt a middle model to join trade and the global economy while preserving sovereignty. We still do not know what we want. Do we want to move towards the West and rely on the Washington Consensus to continue our path of development? Or look east and prefer the Beijing consensus? Or do we want to implement our own Iranian Islamic model of development? The lack of this agreement between the elites and the pendulum movement in foreign policy produced a tortuous and insecure movement for the country, and wasted many of our resources and energies. We also saw that the policy of self-sufficiency and political independence of Ahmadinejad's government could not save us from strategic unification, nor could Rouhani's imaginary and excessive optimism in the West lift the weight off the country's shoulders. It seems that this inability to develop a plan and program to implement a comprehensive program that integrates all directions, in the sense of preserving political and economic sovereignty on the one hand, and dealing with the international community and integration into the global economy on the other hand, represents the most important reason for the weakness of Iranian foreign policy.
Time is running out for us, and we are currently far behind many of our regional competitors. It seems that the time has come, and perhaps it is too late, to address the challenges in the country's foreign policy through serious elite dialogues at the highest levels of government, and to agree and unanimously agree on solutions and solutions that deal with such challenges: the challenge of multiple sources of identity, the challenge between idealism and realism, the challenge of multiple discourses, the challenge of multiple rationality, the challenge of multiple national roles, the challenge between national interests and Islamic interests, the challenge of priority goals, the challenge of moving towards the West or the East, and the challenge between performance Duty regardless of consequences or getting the result, and other challenges.
It would be good if the new government, which is at the beginning of its journey, assumes itself as a "synthesis government" in terms of discourse and procedure. This means moving towards a moderate, realistic discourse and direction based on previous experiences, benefiting from the trend of excess and negligence of conservative and reformist/moderate governments during the past sixteen years.
But can we expect that from the new government? We must be honest. What we have seen so far has been far from what we expected. Of course, it is too early to judge this, and an opportunity must be given and monitoring and evaluation should be carried out. There are still many questions and ambiguities about the government. Does the composition of the prime minister's government live up to the expectations of observers about its effectiveness? Is there the necessary harmony and rapprochement among the members of the government's economic team? Who are the members of the President's Senior Advisory Circle? Who are the ones who provide him with ideas, plans, and the texts of his speeches? What is the strategy that the government relied on in managing its foreign relations, especially with the major powers? Is there a clear plan to lift the sanctions? How will the new nuclear negotiations take place, and what is the agenda? And the most important question: What political discourse does the government adopt? Does it represent a private political discourse?
Similar to foreign policy, there are great and accumulated challenges in the arena of domestic politics, and addressing these challenges requires an effective and qualified model for governance. Especially during the past eight years, the Rouhani government's insistence on looking at all issues from the perspective of foreign policy and nuclear negotiations, and its lack of any clear model for managing and managing the affairs of Iranian society, made us face a huge and accumulated amount of open and urgent files:
How can we find solutions to the runaway inflation, unemployment, weak production, stagnation, the continuous decline of the national currency, the collapse of the stock market, the closure of factories, the flight of investments, smuggling, and the failure of the internal banking system? As for social, cultural and environmental issues, there were not few outstanding issues: youth marriage, crimes, social deviations, women’s issues, the virtual world, air pollution, the water scarcity crisis and its consequences, the disturbing scientific stagnation in universities and schools at the time of Corona, the unfortunate situation of the publishing market, books and journalism, the emigration of elites and many other things.
The question is: Should we expect the answer to all these questions from the President of the Republic - the current President - or any other President? The words I quoted about de Gaulle at the beginning of the article contain a very interesting concept. I invite you to read it again. Perhaps this is our problem today in Iranian society, as we have been accustomed for many years to hand politics over to politicians, and to draw a fictional image of the President of the Republic in our minds, the image of the savior and the legendary hero who comes to solve all problems and perform miracles. We expect the politician and statesman to be a philosopher, theorist, and thinker, and to come up with a qualified and suitable model for governance. During the exciting and exciting electoral advertisement period, we always cling to a personality that we believe is our ideal, who can fix all the problems, but when the person comes and does not succeed in his mission, our hopes are disappointed and we search for another personality to pin our hopes on him again.
Perhaps the problem lies elsewhere, and our expectations of the president and statesman are fundamentally wrong. The President of the Republic is merely an executive mediator, not a philosopher, thinker or maker of ideas. Look at the advanced and developed societies, where the government is limited as much as possible, as its expenditures are reduced and it does not interfere in community issues such as the economy, culture and education, and it does not have an income or a pocket, and it does not sell natural resources, but rather for its simple expenses, it needs people’s taxes. On the other hand, it should always be transparent to taxpayers. No one in these societies expects the President or the Prime Minister to theorize. This is the task of universities and elite circles.
The production of science, the analysis of theories, and the development of model plans for government do not take place in the Kremlin Palace or Buckingham Palace.
The statesman can only be the path built in advance as a result of the agreement of the elites of society.
It can be said that the secret of the success of advanced societies lies in the existence of a strong civil society rather than a strong government. It means a place where politics is not left to politicians only, but everyone participates, from parties, trade unions and civil society organizations, to the media and universities at the forefront of matters. Crossing over from the concept of government and reaching the concept of governance is a clear indication towards this required development. This means that the government in these societies - in its capacity as an executive institution that symbolizes state authority - is only one of the active actors in the governance and management of society, and seeks, along with the rest of civil society institutions, to perform its tasks.
In this model, the government still plays the main role and has the power, but it does so indirectly and through networks in which there are activists with common interests, and mutual relations are established according to mutual interaction, trust, and unity of interests. The popularity of the term globalization from below confirms that activists in the global civil society have influential roles in global governance, and the conduct and management of the affairs of the global system is no longer exclusively in the hands of national governments, even the most powerful among them.
In short, if we sit and wait for Khatami, Ahmadinejad, Rouhani, and Raisi to open their bags after settling in Pasteur's office [street] to bring out theories, ideas, and models of appropriate governance, we must wash our hands of these expectations, as such hopes will never be fulfilled. Plato believed that “cities and the human race are not immune from evil, corruption, and disease; Unless philosophers become kings or kings are philosophers. It must be recognized that the reign of philosopher kings has ended, and that we expected the person who holds the reins of administration to be a theoretic philosopher only increases our frustration. Therefore, it is better for us to look at all matters in another way in the first months of the life of the new government. We have been wrong for a long time in getting the right road address, since the idea of judgment does not come from [avenue] Pasteur.
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